“Research shows some men shun environmental activities for fear of looking gay – proof that homophobia doesn’t only harm LGBTQ people”
– Owen Jones, The Guardian, 8 August 2019
- Vociferously deny that you care about the environment – because after all, participating in environmental initiatives threatens your fragile masculine ego, your sense of identity and your definitely-not-gay selfhood. Of course, you’ve never actually read that hyperlinked article. What article? Besides: fuck reading, that’s a girl thing.
- Tell everyone you don’t give a damn about recycling as you carefully slip your beer caps into your pocket to place in the right bin later. You don’t care about that touchy-feely planet-healy stuff – and if you did care, it would only be because your girlfriend nags you. Now order half a cow sandwiched between two slabs of bread cut by a chainsaw.
- It’s bin night, but you mustn’t let anyone know you know it’s bin night. Leave the house wearing dark glasses and an air of menace, and throw a few punches at a tree to assert your boundless masculine energy. Now pick up the bins and quite literally kick them to the curb. Your work here is done.
- You’re at a party in a very manly place, like the edge of a bear pit, a flaming 44 gallon drum encircled by Ford F250s, or a treehouse bearing the historic slogan “no girlz aloud”. Regrettably, your friends are not aware of the importance of separating soft plastics from hard plastics and proceed to throw them all in together. A manly muscle deep within your chest cavity twitches; you know what you must do. Thrust your hands into the pile of discarded plastics and crush them slowly, flexing gratuitously as you do so. All plastic can be made soft between your iron hands.
- You want to recycle your jars at the waste-free store but must on no account admit to knowing of the waste-free store’s existence. Therefore, you must extend your normal running track by 13 kilometres so that you can casually run past the store in the early hours en route to your French class (French is an acceptable hobby for alpha males because tackling grammar that hard is manly). Be sure to take up running with a large weighted backpack. No-one needs to know the backpack is filled with jars for your lentils and quinoa.
- You know you should replace the old lightbulbs in your share-house with energy-efficient LEDs. In order to accomplish this mission without raising suspicion, make a song and dance (of a manly tone, of course – this is no gay musical) about the dangers of electricity. As you raise the new lightbulb aloft, convince yourself you are risking life and limb to bring alpha light to your man-cave. The lightbulb slots in. Wipe the sweat from your brow as your audience applauds.
- You and your friends are loitering at the food court and having some beautiful quality time together, despite the excessive physical distance you maintain between one another in order to clearly signal your heterosexuality. You want to order a salad because you’ve spent an extensive amount of time researching the volume of water it takes to produce a single steak. It is important for you to keep up appearances, however, so after sixteen seconds of agonising internal debate, cave in and order the spiciest meat-based food you can find: in this case, chilli chicken laksa. The sweat trickling down your face will serve to hide your single manly tear.
- Your housemates are litterbugs and you want to tell them to pick up their game without suffering the abject humiliation of revealing your moral compass. Admitting to house pride would be emasculating, and the banter you and your housemates use to conceal your collective fragile masculinity makes heart-to-heart-conversations impossible. You must therefore trick them into throwing their garbage into the kitchen bin by appealing to their baser manly man instincts. Install a basketball hoop over the bin’s opening. When they slam dunk their garbage triumphantly into the container, whoop and tell them they are athletes.
- Setting up a wastewater system would be nice, but you are man-hulk; the only plant life you are permitted to enjoy is tree bark, which you use to exfoliate. So you must devise a means of recycling your wastewater for your cottage garden in a manlier way. The answer? Water guns.
- Did you know recycling and sustainability applies to energy as well? In a bid to leave as much power in the grid as possible, take up gas lamps and candles. The Little Women aesthetic is the main draw card for you, granted, but you can still tell everyone you’re learning prepper skills needed to survive in post-apocalyptic urban wilderness.
- Assert your masculinity by recycling your clothing and mending rips and tears. When your housemates spot you with a needle and thread, remind them that sewing is an extreme sport that quite literally draws blood. If you are feeling extra macho at this point, stab your finger for good effect.
- One clear morning, you wake up to the sound of birdsong outside your window. Brushing your curtains open a touch, you see the fruits of your labour outside in the cool, clean air. Your cottage garden is flourishing and bees zip joyfully from flower to flower. Each of your bins is lined up tidily by the curb. Your hand-stitched garments, pinned to the washing-line, flutter gently in the breeze.As you swing your legs out of bed, you somehow feel lighter.
What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? you wonder. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?
It is the feeling of relinquishing toxic masculinity in favour of more healthy expressions of gender identity, a little voice whispers in your mind. That, and recycling.
Oh. You ponder this for a moment. What were you so afraid of?
You bring in the bins. And funnily enough, for the first time in a very long time, you no longer feel like garbage.
Rosalind Moran has written for anthologies, websites, and journals including Meanjin, The Lifted Brow, Overland, Feminartsy, Demos, and Writer’s Edit, among others. Her satire has featured in publications such as Little Old Lady Comedy, Points in Case, Defenestration, and Bossy, and her parody poetry has been published widely.